In the early days Gianni Versace's mother supported the family with her small tailor shop, its there, Versace learned everything about making clothes and soon he designed apparel himself, which was sold in his mother's shop. Then, Versace acquired additional skills working in fabric procurement positions. He got his first chance to show his skills when designing a collection for Fiori Fiorentini, a Lucca, Italy based company in 1972.
In the following years, Versace designed for the Italian fashion labels De Parisi, Genny (for whom he would later be working again), Callaghan, Alma, and then for Complice in 1974. The work for Complice, which he fully conceived himself marked the first occasion where his own name was included in the brand name.
In 1978, Versace opened his first boutique in Milan's Via della Spiga, still selling other labels to complement his own collections. Soon, with the growing popularity of the Versace style, boutiques started to spread across the globe.
In 1985, Versace added the Instante label to his fashion empire. Similar in style to Versace couture, but targeted at a less affluent and younger crowd.
The Versace style has become a trademark of its own. If one seeks to characterize Versace, you can always point to Giorgio Armani. Versace is everything Armani is not. He is known for striking colours, materials, and cuts. His collections for men and women are sexy to the point of vulgarity. On first sight his work seems to reflect the typical Italian grandezza. On second sight, he seemed to draw only from those images (like the neo classicistic ornaments in his prints), pushing them to the limits, in order to question any prevailing common agreement on good taste.
When designing new products, Versace gave only a vague sketch of his ideas. Then, his assistants were responsible for transforming them into wearable garments.
Since his days as a fabric buyer, Versace enjoyed travelling. In his new creations, he incorporates the impressions he gains while travelling.
In 1997, Versace was shot to death in front of his mansion in Miami, Florida. Versace's killer is allegedly a serial killer, who committed suicide in Miami short after Versace's murder. In September 1997, Gianni Versace's brother Santo Versace was announced the new CEO of the Versace holding. Gianni's sister Donatella Versace is the new head of design. Donatella was already in a creative position, designing for the Versus label. Sole heiress of Gianni Versace is Donatella's eleven year old daughter Allegra. Her son Daniel inherits Gianni's collection of paintings. Part of Gianni Versace's heritage are his luscious mansions at Lake Como, Italy, in Milan, Italy, in New York City, and the mansion in Miami were Versace was killed.